Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Benefits of Occupational Therapy

Guest Post by: Caryl Anne Crowne

9 Benefits Your Child Will Receive from Occupational Therapy
Occupational therapy is a huge field that is gaining popularity. More educators, professionals and doctors are seeing how this simple intervention can help children in a myriad of ways. Since occupational therapy covers such a wide range of issues, it can be difficult to understand. The most basic goal of occupational therapy is to help children and adults learn the skills they need to accomplish tasks used in everyday life. Here are nine specific benefits your child may reap from occupational therapy.

1. Increased fine motor skills
One of the biggest goals in occupational therapy is to address difficulties that a child is experiencing in tasks that involve fine motor skills such as cutting with scissors, drawing, writing or tying a shoe. If a child struggles with holding a pencil, they will find it difficult to write which will, in turn, affect their academic progress. In fact, 
a study found that the strongest predictor of a special education referral was a lack of fine motor skills. Occupational therapists can help children practice these important skills to help them succeed in the classroom and beyond. 

2. Gross Motor Skills Development
In addition to an increase in fine motor skills levels, occupational therapy can help children develop gross motor skills. Gross motor skills involve movement in the muscles of arms, legs and other body parts. Some examples of activities could be running, walking, riding a bike etc. Depending on the age of the child there are certain levels of gross motor skills activities that should be natural to daily accomplish. An occupational therapist can help your child practice these skills and implement them into daily life.

3. Screening for assistive devices
An increase in awareness of special needs has resulted in more devices being created that assist children and adults in various ways with everyday routine activities. An occupational therapist can help assess your child's need for devices such as wheelchairs, communication aids, sensory aids, dressing devices, splints or even items as simple as a pencil grip. You might be surprised at what a huge difference a small device can make in your child's life.

4. Better sensory integration
Children who have even mild sensory issues can benefit from working with a professional towards greater sensory integration. 
Encouraging studies have shown that occupational therapy with an emphasis on sensory integration can help children with autism engage in age-appropriate activities. At times some children display sensory seeking behaviors such as repeatedly bumping into others or compulsively chewing non-food items while others are sensory avoidant and may have a difficult time with loud noises, public places or stimulating activities like toothbrushing.

5. Help with hand-eye coordination difficulties
Some children may have trouble with activities that require motor planning skills such as catching or throwing a ball or copying from a blackboard. These difficulties can be tricky to identify, as a child may seem to have the necessary skills to accomplish all parts of the task but remains unable to put them all together. Occupational therapy can help correctly identify and overcome these problems.

6. Better behavior
An occupational therapist's goal is to help their client interact more freely in the everyday activities of their life. If certain behavioral challenges are preventing a child from interactions in school or the home, therapists can help address those issues. Some common behavioral problems that occupational therapy can assist with are difficulty waiting, acting out or random violent outbursts towards others when angry, self-harming and difficulty with transitions.

7. Assistance with social skills
Meeting new people or knowing how to act in certain social contexts can be difficult for all of us at times, but some children find social interaction particularly challenging. Occupational therapy can give them the tools they need to form rewarding social relationships like introducing themselves, taking turns, back and forth conversation, giving attention when necessary and avoiding socially inappropriate behaviors.

8. Independence
With the help of a qualified therapist, children can achieve a myriad of goals in occupational therapy such as dressing themselves, writing, eating with utensils and much more. Helping them to gain skills in these tasks means that they will need less assistance or supervision from parents a regular basis and will gain a sense of independence which has positive outcomes for both the child and the caregivers.

9. Self-confidence
As occupational therapy helps your child overcome more of their difficulties, they will gain greater confidence in their abilities and ultimately in their self. This self-confidence can help them to readily take on new challenges in the future. Occupational therapy is truly about so much more than helping a child learn how to get dressed or say hi to a friend. It's a functional intervention to help your child live their life more fully and believe in their abilities.

Author Bio:
Caryl Anne Crowne is a media specialist and contributing author for the Aveanna Healthcare Blog. She regularly produces content for a variety of healthcare blogs covering topics such as caregiving, occupational therapy, geriatric and pediatric therapy as well as general medical solutions. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

FUN Rainy Day Activities for Kids


Guest Post by: Jenny Wise

Photo credit: Pixabay

Banish Rainy Day Boredom With These Online Activities
 Is rain in the forecast for your area this week? Rainy days with kids don’t always need to include endless hours of Netflix and video games. You can use those overcast days to provide some engaging, educational experiences for kids while they’re stuck indoors. Here are a few ideas to makeover your rainy day routines:

Practice Skills in the Kitchen
To survive a rainy day with kids, you’re going to need some tasty snacks. Why not get kids in the kitchen with you and have them help whip up some delicious treats? Cooking involves measuring, a practical use for math and can even include science. Look for recipes that are simple for kids to prepare and tutorials to help sharpen their chef skills. While you’re in the kitchen, be sure to go over food safety and how to handle kitchen emergencies. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby if you’re using the stove or oven and always supervise little ones when they are using knives and appliances.

Use Simple Ingredients for Art
Painting and drawing are perfect ways for kids to pass the time, so if you have some art supplies get them out. Stuck inside with no paints or pencils? Not to worry. You can make art using a few basic ingredients from your kitchen or bathroom. From shaving cream puffy paint to colorful conditioner clay, you likely have everything you need to unleash a child’s inner Picasso. To keep messes minimal, be sure to throw down a trash bag or newspaper and try making an artist’s apron from an old T-shirt to protect clothes. You can also create audible art with online music tutorials.

Teach Some Life Lessons 
Learning doesn’t have to revolve around traditional subjects. Teaching children about matters that will come up later in their life such as buying a home will better prepare them to make smart decisions. Real estate is a perfect topic to cover on a rainy day.

According to real estate brokerage site Redfin, “Real estate is a complex field that requires skills in math, science, English, social studies and home economics. By incorporating real estate-based lessons into your curriculum, you can help students gain valuable skills in practical math application, presentation giving, forming a persuasive argument, earth science and so much more.”

Set Up DIY Science Experiments
Science should be a part of any comprehensive lesson plan. Kid tend to absorb information better if they can get their hands dirty, so use those rainy days to complete some science-centric lessons. With a few simple items, you can teach children about a variety of scientific reactions such as edible glass. Use a paper airplane to learn about aerodynamics or create your own weather with a soda bottle tornado. Or, make some giant, foamy fun by whipping up some  elephant toothpaste. Kids will love watching their homemade “toothpaste” grow and expand into a monster pile of foam.

Talk About Weather 
If you’re stuck inside because of the weather, why not make weather the focus of your lessons? Weather can be an interesting subject for children to discover. Have children countdown between lightning and thunder to learn how light and sound travel differently. Set a chair near a window and have them observe the clouds in the sky. They can document every detail from size, shape and movement to better understand how weather moves around our world.

Burn Off Excess Energy 
Engaging young minds can help keep them focused, but you still need some ways to use excess energy. Clear the floor and have them follow along with some YouTube exercise videos. Give them a brain break by tuning into a channel that will teach them a simple yoga practice or get their bodies moving with some fun dance. Online workouts are a great way for anyone to stay in shape when they’re stuck inside, but kids can especially benefit from an exercise break.

A rainy day doesn’t have to mean a whole day is ruined. With an Internet connection and some ingenuity, you can put together some exciting, educational activities that kids of all ages will enjoy. So when those skies start to turn grey, get out this article and give kids memories they’ll always remember.

About the Author:
Jenny Wise is the owner and blogger at specialhomeeducator.com. She is a stay-at-home parent to 4 beautiful children. Her and her husband made the decision to home-educate when their oldest was four years old. During this journey, they have expanded their family, and faced many challenges along the way. With every challenge, they have experienced great rewards. Follow Jenny's homeschooling adventure at specialhomeeducator.com


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Preparing for Parenthood When YOU Have a Disability


Guest Post by: Ashley Taylor

Preparing Your Life and Home for Parenthood When You Have a Disability
Image via Pixabay

There is nothing quite as rewarding as being a new parent. The bond you share with your children is unlike anything you’ve experienced before. You get to watch them grow into their own personality with hopes, dreams, fears, and interests. They, in turn, learn from you as you teach them life lessons based on what you’ve learned in your own life. Together, you are a family that supports each other in hard times and celebrates accomplishments during the good times.

When you live with a disability, the rewards of parenting are still there. However, there are certain preparations future parents with disabilities should take to make sure they are ready for parenthood in their unique situation. Doing so helps simplify life so you can enjoy your new life as a parent without excessively worrying about things such as money and accessibility. Below are a couple of ways you can prepare your life and renovate your home for parenthood when you have a disability.


Preparing Financially
The best things in life may be free, but healthcare and diapers are not. The average cost for raising a baby runs around $12,000 just for the first year. By age two, it can cost a family $12,500 per year, and that number increases as they grow. Plus, as a person with a disability, you may have extra healthcare costs associated with pregnancy. For many parents living with a disability, these costs can become a big problem.

A survey paid for by the Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability Rehabilitation and Research (NIDRR) discovered that families that include at least one parent living with a disability are more likely to live below the poverty line than families who do not. Factors such as difficulty finding work, additional medical expenses, and lack of financial assistance make it difficult for some families to make ends meet.

Below are just some of the financial preparations future parents can make to ensure they are able to handle the costs of raising a child.

 Establish a workable budget that covers daily expenses while still allowing you to save.
 Pre-pay your bills before going on maternity or paternity leave. Having those expenses covered beforehand allows you to focus on nesting and a healthy birth.
 Scale back on luxury expenses like cable; you’ll likely find you don’t have as much time to watch TV once the little one is in the house.
 Apply for parenting grants and federal assistance for people with disabilities to help cover birthing costs.
 Look into college savings plans that will help you put aside the money necessary for your child’s future education.

Preparing the Home
While your home may already be renovated in some ways for accessibility, take into consideration the additional mobility you will need to keep up with a growing child. All parents go through a nesting period where they decorate and babyproof their home. As a parent with a disability, it may take a little more time and money to complete necessary renovations. Some renovations you should consider include:

 Zero-step entrances that can make it easier to navigate around the house when you are juggling your baby and belongings.
 Skid-resistant flooring to prevent slip and falls.
 Consider installing expandable hinges to add clearance to doorways.
 Set up a dedicated area for play where the baby can move around freely, and you can move around safely.
 Install a loop or lever faucet to make bath time easier.

***
Being a parent is incredibly rewarding, but it is also expensive and a lot of work. If you are a parent with a disability, this is even more true. Prepare financially by budgeting, paying expenses like bills before maternity/paternity leave, and setting up a college fund. You can make your home safer and easier to navigate with renovations such as zero-step entrances, skid-resistant flooring, and lever faucets in the bath.

About the Author: 
Ashley Taylor is a disabled mother of two wonderful, amazing, energetic children. She met her husband, Tom, while doing physical therapy. Tom had suffered a spinal cord injury due to a car accident and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Ashley and Tom knew they wanted children and knew they would have to adapt their lives and home in order to make this dream come true. Ashley is happy to say that they are the proud parents of two healthy, wonderful children and their disabilities haven’t stopped them from leading a happy, fulfilling life. Connect with Ashley and get more great parenting tips on her site at disabledparents.org.


Monday, May 28, 2018

Samson's Classroom Website and Giveaway!




I'm sharing all about Samson's Classroom today; a website my students and I love using for sight word and reading practice.
With Samson's Classroom, your students can practice sight words, spelling, reading fluency, and reading comprehension in such a fun way, they won't even know they're learning. 

In the sight word section, students choose a word list to practice.

Samson takes students through 5 steps to help them practice and master each word list. In step 1, student learn the words.


In step 2, they build the words.


 In step 3, they identify the words.

In step 4, they practice spelling the words.

And in step 5, they practice using their new words in sentences.

Immediate feedback is given to the students in each activity and prompts are provided when needed. Students can also click "hear again" to have a word repeated.

Samson's Classroom tracks each student's progress, so I can go into my teacher dashboard and view my student's sight word progress.

In the reading section, students can choose from 5 different reading levels and earn carnival hammer swings for mastering passages.


All of the passages are timed and include reading comprehension questions students must answer. Samson provides immediate feedback and another feature I love is if students need a hint or a little help, he will highlight the area in the text where the answer can be found.

Again, I can go to my teacher dashboard and check my student's reading progress. I can see what date they read the passage, the time it took, and their comprehension score.

I have not used the spelling component yet, but it looks just as engaging and I plan to use it next year. There are almost 100 pre-made spelling lists to choose from or you can customize and add your own lists.

You can also track spelling progress in the teacher dashboard and the dashboard is so clear cut and user-friendly!

 You can click here to try out a free demo of Samson's Classroom! 

Here are some of my students engaged in Samson's Classroom!

I've piloted and used many websites in my classroom over my last 10 years of teaching, and Samson's Classroom is by far one of mine and my student's favorites for sight word and reading practice and I can't wait to implement the Spelling component next year. I love the simplicity of it, for both the teacher and the student, yet the immediate feedback and engagement it provides and the progress my students have made!  
A classroom subscription is $80/year, AND so worth it, but guess what?? I'm giving away 3 classroom subscriptions today!! That's right! Samson's Classroom has generously offered to give 3 of you a free one-year classroom subscription to use in your classroom!

Enter using the Rafflecopter below and Good Luck! I'm confident that you and your students are going to love Samson's Classroom!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 27, 2018

SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies Link Up

Welcome! 
{Special Announcement: SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies is going on summer vacation! This will be the last freebie link up until September. SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies will resume on the first Sunday in September.}

Every Sunday I host this freebie link up here on my blog for Special Education Teachers! Visit every week to download free resources for your classroom! If this is your first time visiting, you can access all of the freebies from previous link ups by clicking on "SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies" under "My Files" on my right sidebar. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you're a TPT seller, blogger, or resource creator, I invite you to link up and share your own freebie(s) using the link up tool below! 


Link Up Rules

1. All resources must be FREE! It can be free for the day, but please delete your link once you mark it back to paid.
2. You may link up 1-3 freebies.
3. Your freebie can link to your blog or store.
4. Freebie does not have to be related specifically to SPED, but should be practical for SPED.
5. If you are linking up from your blog, using this image in your post and linking back to my blog is not required, but is greatly appreciated! 

6. Share this image on your social media so others can enjoy all of these freebies!

*I recommend using an image of your freebie & not your button when linking up. 

 Feel free to share the image above all over your social media to let other teachers know about these freebies! 

The link up tool will close on Saturday each week, but "forever" freebies will remain accessible! Come back every Sunday to link up or download new freebies!

Have a GREAT summer!!